Vaccine Mandates: If We Agree to Disagree, Can Society Still Function?

By: Michael Locatelli, For The Clock

mlocatelli@plymouth.edu

The global pandemic and the regulations which came because of it have created a massive division across the globe. Countries around the world all took different approaches to protecting public health, with some imposing far-reaching vaccination mandates such as the United States and Canada, while others, such as Sweden and Norway, achieved sky high vaccination rates without any government reach into individual freedom. 

The development of a vaccine proved vital to the health of the globe and the thwarting of the pandemic; however, it too became polarizing. In the United States, right wing media and conservative policy makers in ‘red states’ have and continue to condemn vaccine mandates. Some state governors such as Greg Abbot (R – Texas), and Ron DeSantis (R – Florida) have even gone as far as to enact policy banning vaccine mandates of any kind. 

On the other side of the ideological aisle, liberally dominated states such as California and New York have passed expansive vaccine mandates. The cities of Los Angeles and NY both have new legislation requiring proof of vaccination to access any public settings such as restaurants, gyms, concerts, sporting events, etc., and these policies have been met with much public support. The Biden Administration also created policy aligning with policy passed in liberal states, making vaccination mandatory for those who work at companies with more than 100 employees. 

Countries such as Canada have passed much legislation such as that enacted by the U.S federal government, and state governments within America’s more liberal states. The Canadian government has imposed far reaching vaccination mandates to protect Canadians. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that all federal workers must have a vaccine or be placed on unpaid leave. The legislation passed also requires proof of vaccination for travel via bus, train, and air. 

Nations such as Sweden and Norway have taken a less intrusive approach to their handling of the pandemic and have continually found success. In Sweden they were able to find a way out of the pandemic with no mask or vaccine mandates. They took an even more relaxed approach than most U.S states, including the libertarian-leaning state we call home, New Hampshire. In Norway, 86% of the eligible population is vaccinated yet the country has never imposed a vaccine mandate. 

This statistic is incredibly important as it shows how backwards both the Canadian and American approaches towards vaccination have been. Canada and the U.S have taken the historical North American approach to change, to impose law, and scare/force people into falling in line. If the goal, which it should be, is to get people vaccinated and make them feel comfortable doing so, the best way to achieve that goal is to create trust in the government. 

There is great division amongst the populations in Canada and the United States right now. Those who believe in liberty of the individual are in a very public battle with those who place emphasis on larger government and community decisions. Do you know which nations are not having these disagreements? Sweden and Norway. There are quite simple reasons for the cohesiveness we are seeing in Scandinavia. COVID-19 was less political, people trusted the government, therefore no government vaccine mandate was needed, and people never felt as though their civil liberties were being threatened. 

We need to find a way to build a more cohesive society here in North America if we want to continue to be leaders on the world stage. The political division fueled by the media and government is proving increasingly detrimental to public health, meaning it’s about time we learn a lesson from our Scandinavian neighbors.